2020 - All Press Releases

Anthony Fauci and Salim Abdool Karim awarded John Maddox Prize 2020 for standing up for science during the coronavirus pandemic

The 2020 John Maddox Prize for standing up for science has been awarded to Anthony Fauci and Salim Abdool Karim for their communication of accurate medical advice to the public in the US and South Africa respectively | Additional prize for an early career researcher goes to Anne Abbott

London, 14 December 2020

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD), and Salim Safurdeen Abdool Karim FRSSAf FRS a South African epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist have been jointly awarded the 2020 John Maddox Prize for their achievements going beyond the line of duty of government advisors on health policy, to communicate accurate medical advice to the public and policymakers during the Covid-19 pandemic, as they both did during the 1980s AIDS crisis.

 Both Fauci and Karim have been lauded for their leadership and clear communication of the science during the crisis. Fauci’s frank and honest manner in speaking to everyone from patients to journalists, to speaking to world leaders or addressing the nation has made him a source of reliable information across the US. He is known for being dedicated to working with journalists, consistently making time to respond to every enquiry, while other government scientists have avoided the media spotlight.

In South Africa Karim has been showing the same dedication. He is the chairperson of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, through which he provides strategic and evidence based guidance to the minister for health and the government. He considers a well informed public key in the fight to manage the crisis, and has gone above and beyond in his determination to achieve this. 

A further prize for an individual considered to be in the early stages of their career was awarded to Associate Professor Anne Abbott, a neurologist from the Central Clinical School at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia for her efforts and perseverance in pushing against received wisdom in medicine, to highlight the potential to move away from unnecessary clinical interventions and procedures in the treatment of carotid stenosis.

Tracey Brown OBE, director, Sense about Science, said:  “The prize, by its nature, has typically focused on people who have not had recognition of their efforts to communicate science in difficult circumstances. This year the biggest scientific battles have been under a spotlight from politicians, the media, and the public, so as judges our considerations were different. We have high expectations of people in public office, so we are recognising a standard above and beyond that. This crisis drew many advisers away into the corridors of decision making and official announcements. Instead, our joint winners took every opportunity to talk to the public through uncertain and emerging science.”

Magdalena Skipper, editor-in-chief of Nature, said: “This year has demonstrated how critical it is for everyone that science be communicated clearly and accurately. As many are confronted with confusing, contradictory and sometimes even false information, leaders who are able to convey the important messages clearly, can literally mean the difference between life and death. The Maddox Prize serves an important purpose in recognizing those who stand up for sound science and evidence. It is our pleasure to work with Sense about Science to recognize the roles that Anthony Fauci and Salim Abdool Karim have played in this pandemic and also that of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.”

The John Maddox Prize, now in its ninth year, is a joint initiative of the charity Sense about Science, which promotes the public interest in sound science and evidence, and the leading international scientific journal Nature, and is awarded to one or two people a year.

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About Sense about Science

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Elizabeth Hawkins | Springer Nature | Communications
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